My main article today looks at the decision by Barclaycard to close its two IHG Rewards Club credit cards.
For most people, the obvious move will be to one of the two replacement IHG Rewards Club cards issued by Creation. There are, however, many other Visa and Mastercard products out there. I thought it was worth quickly running through the alternatives to the IHG cards.
Bear in mind, during this process, that you may be better with a cashback card, the most generous of which is currently the ASDA Cashback Credit Card. This card is free and offers 0.5% cashback on all spending in ASDA vouchers. The representative APR is 19.9% variable.
Avios and non-IHG Rewards Club hotel cards
I am bundling the Avios and hotel cards together because most people have both an Avios account and an account with the major hotel chains and may be ambivalent between them when it comes to points earning.
Best sign-up bonus (free card): Hilton Honors Platinum Visa
EVERYONE who reads HfP should get this card – although, as you can now only get the bonus once, you need to time it right. It is issued by Barclaycard, so if you had trouble being accepted whilst you held the IHG cards, you shouldn’t have a problem after 26th April.
The sign up bonus is a voucher for a free weekend night at any Hilton Group hotel, triggered when you spend £750. The only catch is that it must be used within 6 months. Long term, it isn’t a bad option – you get 2 Hilton points per £1 which I would value at 0.6p. This is VERY favourable compared to, say, 0.2 Avios per £1 on a competing card. My full review is here. Representative APR 18.9% variable.
Best long-term card for the Avios collector (for most people): Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express & Mastercard
This is a double pack with a £24 fee. The earnings rate stinks (0.25 Avios per £1) BUT Mastercard spending counts towards the upgrade voucher you receive for spending £7,000. This voucher allows you to book a Club World BA redemption for the Avios of World Traveller Plus or a WTP redemption for the Avios of World Traveller. Short-haul, you can book Club Europe for the Avios of Euro Traveller. You could save 50,000+ Avios if you use the voucher smartly.
Add in the fact that the card has NO FX FEES and you have a good package. Lloyds service is poor but you can hold your nose and get through that. My full review is here. Representative APR 23.7% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.
Best long-term card for the Avios collector (high income readers): HSBC Premier Mastercard or HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard
You need to have a (free) HSBC Premier current account to get these cards. Read my coverage here and here for more details. If you’ve got the money behind you to get Premier, the cards are great. The standard Mastercard is FREE and earns 0.5 Avios per £1. Representative APR 18.9% variable. The World Elite card has a £195 annual fee but comes with a sign-up bonus of 40,000 Avios for spending £12,000 in your first year, free airport lounge access and pays a generous 1 Avios per £1 spent. Representative APR 59.3% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.
Best long-term card for the Avios collector (no annual fee) – Tesco Clubcard Mastercard
You get 1 Clubcard point per £8 spent which translates into 0.3 Avios per £1. However Tesco rounds down each transaction to the nearest £8 which means your actual earning rate is lower. My full review is here. Representative APR 18.9% variable.
Visa or Mastercard Avios products of little use to most people
The cards below are, for most people most of the time, beaten by one of the cards listed above:
Lloyds Choice Rewards American Express & Mastercard (review) – £24 fee and 0.2 Avios per £1 compares badly to the Lloyds Avios Rewards card, given that this card has no upgrade voucher. Representative APR 23.7% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.
Tesco Premium Mastercard (review) – £150 annual fee. You wouldn’t get this card for the earning rate – which is poor (given the annual fee) at 0.6 Avios per £1, and in reality even lower due to the way Tesco rounds down your transactions. Some people may find value in the travel insurance and the generous bonus for spending over £5,000 at Tesco per year – the card only really works if you would trigger this. Representative APR 56.5% variable, including the fee, assuming a £1200 credit limit.
This section is trickier to call. Unless your Visa or Mastercard spending is huge, you will never earn enough miles purely from the card to redeem for a flight. You are only likely to be interested in these cards if you already collect miles in that programme. In this scenario, the question to ask is: is the card a better deal than a cashback card?
Note that none of the paid cards listed here offer any sort of pro-rata fee refund if you cancel.
Virgin Atlantic White American Express and Visa (review) – good earning rate at 0.5 miles per £1, given the £0 annual fee and 10,000 mile special sign-up bonus which runs until 3rd April. However, Visa spend does NOT count towards the Premium Economy reward upgrade on an Economy redemption after spending £10,000 per year (two can be earned per year) or the fairly useless companion voucher (valid only on a paid flight in a flexible booking class in any cabin) when you spend £15,000 in a year. Representative APR 22.9% variable.
Virgin Atlantic Black American Express and Visa (review) – excellent earning rate at 1 mile per £1 but you need to offset the £140 annual fee against this. For the first year, the 25,000 mile sign-up bonus (this is a special offer until 3rd April) makes it attractive. Visa spend does NOT count towards the Premium Economy reward upgrade on an Economy redemption after spending £5,000 per year (two can be earned per year) or the fairly useless companion voucher (valid only on a paid flight in a flexible booking class in any cabin) when you spend £7,500 in a year. Representative APR 57.4% variable including fee based on a £1200 credit limit.
American Airlines AAdvantage American Express and Visa (review) – this is an EXCELLENT card, with no fee and 0.75 miles per £1 spent on the Visa. If you have an American Airlines stash this is definitely worth considering. There is a 5,000 mile sign-up bonus too. Representative APR 22.9% variable.
Emirates Skywards American Express and Visa (review) – not as generous as the American card, but 0.5 miles per £1 is still good for a free card. This is a 5,000 mile sign-up bonus too. Representative APR 22.9% variable.
Emirates Skywards Elite American Express and Visa (review) – £150 annual fee but a very strong earnings rate of 1 mile per £1 spent on the Visa. For a heavy spender this is worth a look, and even an average spender may find it good for the first year given the 10,000 miles sign-up bonus. My review outlines the other perks offered although I don’t value any of them highly. Representative APR 60.5% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.
Etihad Guest American Express and Visa (review) – 0.75 miles per £1 spent on the Visa is a good deal given the lack of a fee. 5,000 mile sign-up bonus. If you fly Etihad the other perks are worth a look too – bonus miles on Business and First Class flights taken within your first 90 days and Silver status after one return flight. Representative APR 22.9% variable.
Flybe Mastercard (review) – the card is too complex to explain easily! My review has all the details but I don’t recommend it. Even the sign-up bonus of a free flight is less generous than it seems. Representative APR 18.9% variable.
Lufthansa Miles & More American Express and Visa (review) – with 0.75 miles per £1 on the Visa and no fee, this card is a good deal if you have a Miles & More account. Holding it also stops your miles expiring, which is valuable given the harsh three year cut off. The sign-up bonus is 1,500 miles and you also get 33% bonus miles for the first six months which a high spender could find valuable. Representative APR 22.9% variable.
United Airlines MileagePlus American Express and Visa (review) – finally, we have the United card. It offers 0.625 miles per £1 spent on the Visa and has no fee. There is no sign-up bonus. Representative APR 22.9% variable.
These are certainly not vintage times for anyone looking for a new Visa or MasterCard. For a lot of people, the best option to replace their Barclaycard IHG Rewards Club card will be the new Creation version. However, I hope I have been able to show here that there are some decent alternative deals about and hopefully one will suit your miles and points goals.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2021 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our September 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
The following offers will end soon:
- 2,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard (ends 15th October)
- 30,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard (ends 15th October)
- 10,000 Avios on British Airways American Express (ends 2nd November)
- 40,000 Avios on British Airways American Express Premium Plus (ends 2nd November)
- 60,000 points on The Platinum Card from American Express (ends 2nd November)
- 30,000 points on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (ends 10th November)
Here are the top current deals:
British Airways American Express
10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard
The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
30,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers.
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending: